Help family living out of their car

AFTER READING THIS, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE UPDATES AS OF 12/19/16.
*****WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP**********


To my  friends, please read below. I am asking for help. Small donations. Whatever you can give.  (Trying to get this off fast, so apologies for any typos or grammatical errors!). Please share. Thanks, Eva.

Giving you backstory:

For the past 3 weeks, there has been a car parked down my street and what looked like someone living in there. Occasionally I’d see a man with a cart full of cans nearby, but I didn’t make the connection that this was the man living in the car.

Yesterday, I discovered the worst- that it was an entire family. I first saw two kids hanging out outside of the car playing a game when I was leaving in the morning to run some errands. When I returned many hours later, it was dark and they were still sitting there. At this point, it was drizzling on and off. The kids had had their hoods up. My heart is broken so I ordered them a big pizza and salad, which came an hour later. At this point they had put together their tent and were packed in and it stopped raining. They were shocked at the small amount of kindness and genuinely appreciative and eager to eat.  I fell asleep shortly thereafter, only to realize that it had poured all night and woke up truly feeling like a piece of shit. I mean- pizza? Why didn’t I invite them in? What is wrong with me? These are children. No child, or human being deserves to sleep in a tent in the rain. I’ll also add in that this is in Venice, where it is 10 degrees colder than everywhere else. Think for one second about sleeping in a tent in the rain, in 40 degree weather. Think of your children sleeping in a tent in 40 degree weather. Let that sink in. I decided to do something.

Fast-forward to me walking down the street to speak with them to see what can be done. I then saw 6 police officers crowded around, one speaking with the young girl, and the other talking to the father who was sitting on the ground, hands on his head, crying like I’ve never seen. I pulled one of the police officers over and asked what this was about- (I was expecting them to be asking them to move and I was ready to argue). The officer told me that these were good people who have done nothing wrong, who they were trying to help. I let them finish talking to the police and came back a bit later to speak with the father, who I found out is named Gerardo.

Gerardo told me about the hard times he and his family have been having. He was laid off from his job and has struggled to find something new. He’s taken odd jobs here and there, but finds that a lot of his money comes from collecting bottles around the neighborhood these days. I believe they give something like .5 a bottle. Do the math. To feed 4 people, that’s a lot of bottles.  His gf/wife suffers from PTSD so is unable to work. He told me about his kids, emphasized how smart they are. He has two, 9 and 13, girl and boy respectively, who go to school in the neighborhood each morning after sleeping in a tent at night. His pride in his children was very clear. You could tell he felt like he had done one thing right in this regard. He told me they were at the library when we were having this conversation. They love to read. His eyes were very teary. He was in and out of crying. He then told me what happened at 3am, clearly the thing that broke him. He woke up to them crying and yelling. They were sleeping in a pool of water. It was still raining and it was freezing cold. He couldn’t do anything at all, but hold them.  

 He told me that he and his wife aren’t technically married. Because of this, they will split them up if they go to a shelter. The police told me that earlier as well. He’s heard about the horrors in these situations, as have we all. A string of bad luck and you have to separate from your kids? Unfair. He kept emphasizing that he couldn’t split them up. I asked if the police were any help. He said they tried and that he appreciated it, while looking defeated. They called the local pastor (who has been a great help to them), but had no luck with placement. He said he and Chris are already on the list for housing, but there are no availabilities for family placements at this time. 

 They previously had a motor home, but the engine broke and it has been sitting at the mechanics for a long time while he’s tried to save money slowly. To many of us, this isn’t ideal, but to him, it was the Ritz. His eyes lit up when he told me about it. He emphasized how he felt like he had failed his kids, by not having the motor home roof over their heads. That because of this they slept drenched. I have spoken to the mechanic and the total cost of the repair is 3600. It's been paid slowly and he only owes 550 more dollars! He is at the limit though with the amount of time the mechanic has given him to pay off this debt and is at risk of losing it.  Additionally, he has some tickets that have gone unpaid. Anyone that lives in LA knows that the LADOT doesn’t give anyone any breaks. He has found a nearby doctor who has agreed to give him a spot for free, once he gets it back, however. I am going to speak with him as well.

 This man is a good man who is willing to do anything to provide for his family, put food in his kids mouths and clothes on their back. I asked him what he did. He is a bike mechanic, but said he can do anything.  I’m going to give him some odd handy man jobs to get a few bucks in his pocket and some grocery money. We’ve also booked a hotel room nearby for two nights. Because most importantly, they cannot sleep on the street again tonight.

 I feel like a monster for not inviting them in. That will haunt me forever, thinking of the kids in the rain. But right now I feel like I can act, which is why I’m asking for help. I’d like to raise the 550.00 that I will pay directly to the mechanic to get his motor home out, in addition to the tickets on the vehicle to ensure it doesn’t get impounded. Let’s call that another 400.00 for safe measure (with late fees). But I want to go further than that. I’d like to help them out with groceries and some new, clean clothes for the kids. I’d also like to ask anyone here if they have any work for this guy. He is willing to do anything.

 From the bottom of my heart, I ask that you can give a little something. Donate what you’d pay to go out for a meal, and eat at home one night next week. It’s Thanksgiving on Thursday, a time where we will all spend time with the people we love in our homes. Let’s get them back in their home, with a fresh start, and something to be grateful for. I will help the family on my end, to make sure whatever is given to them goes a long way towards all they need to start over and to help them plan it out. Please help me on your end.

 

Eva
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Organizer

Eva Gunz 
Organizer
Los Angeles, CA